How To Make Cleaning Fun
Cleaning day coming up? Don't think of cleaning as doing chores. Make it a good time with these expert tips.
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Is It Possible To Make Cleaning Fun?
Some people just love to clean. You know the type: The chipper, enthusiastic friend with an immaculate home who loves to rave about their newest cleaning tool. “Hey, I got a Roomba!” they gush, as you silently grumble about the trend toward omnipresent, invasive technology.
Others dread the task. Professional organizer Shantae Duckworth of Shantaeize Your Space used to be one of those people.
“I personally used to have really bad anxiety about cleaning the kitchen at night after dinner,” Duckworth says. “Then when I finally did clean the kitchen, I realized that it only took me 20 minutes!”
Whether you love to clean or you’re less than enthused, it’s all about your state of mind. “The most important thing is not to put any pressure on yourself,” says Laura Mountford, aka @Lauracleanaholic, a cleaning expert and author who shares her tips with her 500K Instagram followers. “[R]emember that nobody lives in a show home — and we all need to clean — so try to approach tasks with a positive mindset.”
Can you make cleaning fun? You can try! We’ve got expert tips from Duckworth, Mountford and more to put a little pep in your cleaning step.
Listen to Music
The experts agree: Music helps make cleaning fun!
“My No. 1 tip for making cleaning fun is to find music that is really going to help get you in the zone,” Duckworth says. For her, that usually means reggaeton and old school hip-hop for cleaning. For other tasks, she flips to a calmer Lo-Fi beats playlist if the mood strikes.
“Blast music that you love,” accountability coach Francesca Panebianco says. “Start moving your body to the music while thinking about your cleaning plan.” Panebianco says you’ll be surprised how much music can get you pumped up.
Pro cleaner Andrii Gurskyi of the New York City maid service HomeClean says to assemble a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs, the ones that make you feel happy and motivated. “Listening to music can make cleaning more enjoyable and help you stay energized throughout the process,” he says.
Do you have a favorite television show you want to catch up on? Link a task you don’t really love, like doing the dishes, with a reward at the end, like settling in to watch a couple of episodes.
Certified life coach Jocelyn Michelle Reaves says we can rewire our brains to think about our “have to do” tasks more positively by pairing them with our “want to do” list.
Positive psychologist and happiness expert Wendy O’Connor says feeling celebrated and rewarded for our efforts makes us more likely to do them. Great rewards are things you might not typically give yourself permission to do, which makes them extra exciting. Take a bubble bath in the middle of the day, enjoy a late-morning nap, take yourself out to a movie or meet a friend for a midweek cocktail.
Use Products You Love
Let’s face it: Vinegar is a cleaning wonder, but it’s not exactly known for its fabulous fragrance. To make cleaning fun, buy some cleaners that actually make you want to use them.
“I love using products that smell divine and that perform well to make the job easier and more enjoyable,” Mountford says. “To me, my cleaning products are an extension of my beauty products, like self-care for me and my home.”
Cleaning can be therapeutic, too! If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or low, Mountford says grabbing your favorite products and “having a clean” can really help you relax and unwind. That goes for your cleaning tools, too.
“Stop using the scrubbing brush that gives you blisters and the all-purpose cleaner that makes you gag,” empowerment coach Arissan Nicole says. “It’s worth upgrading your tools to make the process easier, and using products that smell nice.”
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Catch Up on Podcasts
How many times have you started a podcast only to drop off when you get too busy?
“It can be hard to find time to catch up on reading or your favorite podcasts, but cleaning is the perfect time to do just that!” Reaves says. “Associate your cleaning time with an interesting podcast or book, and you’ll look forward to it as your time to catch up where you left off.”
Listening to a podcast or an audiobook can make time go faster, according to confidence coach Alex Ward. “It’s also an opportunity to learn something or listen to a novel you’ve always wanted to read,” he says. If the task requires little concentration, most people find themselves in “robot mode,” Ward says, while their conscious mind absorbs the new information.
Make Cleaning a Workout
Skip your run this morning? Make it up while cleaning!
“If you have a Fitbit or Apple Watch, set it on a workout and see how many steps and calories you can burn while cleaning,” Panebianco says. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Push yourself harder by adding exercises between tasks, says Armeka Townsend, a cleaning expert and senior consumer relations representative at Zep.
“Perform 10 pushups every time you finish cleaning a room,” Townsend says. “Use a step counter to track the number of steps you take while cleaning and challenge yourself to increase the intensity of your cleaning movements, such as scrubbing faster or using more force.”
Chat On the Phone
We’ve become a society of texters, but sometimes a good conversation is just what we need to make time fly. Who do you love talking to on the phone? Your mom? Best friend? Well, call them up!
Empowerment coach Kristin Micalizzi says linking cleaning with an activity you enjoy makes the task more fun. Music or podcasts are great, but don’t forget the power of talk. “Throw in some Bluetooth headphones and chat away while you plow through the mess,” Micalizzi says.
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Set a Timer
Have you heard of the two-minute productivity rule? If you can tackle a task in two minutes or less, do it now rather than procrastinate.
Juliet Dreamhunter, certified happiness and goal success coach and founder of Juliety.com, takes the two-minute rule and adds in a fun factor: “Set a timer for 30 minutes and do as many of these under-two-minute tasks as possible. This tactic is especially great when you feel overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done.”
From cleaning the house to decluttering emails, tackling these tasks in two-minute chunks keeps your home clean and tidy and inevitably lowers your stress levels. Before you know it, you’ll be crossing 15 or more tasks off your list in one go!
Compete With a Friend
To really up your challenge game, team up with a family member or roommate to get the 30-minute party started. “If you are lucky to clean with a partner,” Dreamhunter says, “you can even make it a competition — who finishes more little things in 30 minutes?”
Competing against someone fires up the critical thinking areas in your brain, Dreamhunter says, making you come up with creative and more efficient ways to do things.
Up the ante by adding a points system and rewards for completing cleaning tasks, Gurskyi says. “You can involve family members or roommates in friendly competitions to see who can earn the most points,” he says.
Watch a Movie
How many times have you seen The Proposal? Ten, 20, 50 times? Or maybe Caddyshack is more your vibe. (Guilty as charged on both.) “If you have a chore or an organizing task that allows you to be stationary,” Micalizzi says, “catch up on your favorite show or watch that favorite movie you’ve seen 100 times but never get sick of.”
This trick works great even if you’re not sitting down. Besides laundry and organizing, you can catch your favorite scenes while dusting, mopping or washing the walls. So even if you have to move around your home, put that old movie on! If you have to leave the room a bit, don’t you already know how it ends?
Make It a Habit
Have you ever hated something and then grew to love it? I used to run marathons, and those first few steps were torture. Then suddenly, I couldn’t live without it. Cleaning can be the same way.
“When something becomes habit or routine, it starts to become more desirable to do because it’s a part of our weekly structure,” Ward says. “It’s like starting at the gym. At first it’s hard and you don’t necessarily enjoy it, but once it’s a part of your routine it becomes hard to live without.”
To start on the cleaning-is-fun path, create a schedule and stick to it.